Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Short Shorts: The Doom is Upon Us

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The dew on a chill fall morning is amazing.

UPDATE 3: Dammit. My family is watching vote count. I'm so nervous now I can't update. But Ko ahead by 80K with 500K votes counted...

UPDATE 2: Many onlookers reporting that barbed wire and barricades are going up around KMT HQ.

UPDATE 1: This video has been making the rounds (with English) -- CCP supporters in front of Taipei 101 beat a woman, say they want the CCP to come over and eliminate all of the onlookers because Taiwan is China. Well, that little piece of Taiwan certainly is...

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I'll be updating this throughout the day...

Election day, my wife and son went out to vote and done. Voting has become a sacred ritual of reproduction of the Taiwan identity, which has incorporated the island's democracy into its heart. How is Beijing going to police this place if it ever takes over?

Once again, if you haven't read it, the Reuters special report on Beijing's drive to absorb Taiwan is dynamite.

Julian Baum has a great piece on the 16 year old running a local candidate's political campaign. Simply awesome.

This WSJ report sensibly notes that China is not all that concerned about the results because it is only a local election and the issues and candidates are local. This restrained and sensible view of the election is at odds with the major media narrative of OMG IT COULD MEAN THE END OF EVERYTHING narrative that many other media are clinging to. For example the BBC trundles out its semiannual Taiwan election narrative: Future of Chinese relations at Stake. It's written by Cindy Sui, whose article is more fair and sensible than the headline makes it out to be. I doubt she was responsible for the headline.

Let's get it out clearly: relations with China are not at stake, and if there is a change, it will be because Beijing makes it. Both sides in Taiwan politics want good relations with China; it is Beijing that chooses whether they will have good relations. This ZOMG DPP WILL CAUSE THE APOCALYPSE  narrative that comes out every election is just another version of the zombie media narratives that remove all agency from China, which is simply the helpless prisoner of Taiwan political choices and has no independent will of its own. In other words, it's media bullshit. Imagine if the media treated the election as a test of China's flexibility and good intentions...

Chinese "scholars" weigh in on the election on behalf of the CCP, with some hilarious remarks.
Sheng Jiuyuan, the deputy chief of the Taiwan Studies Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Yan's view, asking if Ko, who claims he does not know what the 1992 Consensus refers to, is elected, "how can the leaders of the two cities exchange visits in the future under such circumstances?"
"The LOL factor in this one is high", a friend and Taiwan commentator observed. The PRC does not accept the 1992 consensus, which is a post hoc invention of the KMT. But it looks like it does require that the Taiwanese observe it, in typical PRC fashion. Then again, these are scholars talking in their private capacity, so Beijing has deniability. Nifty, eh? The idea that city-to-city exchanges depend on the 1992 consensus is purely ridiculous. But you know if the PRC cuts off exchanges when Ko is elected.... the western media will be out there blaming the pro-Taiwan side. Except for WSJ.

Frozen Garlic on some campaign ads:
One of the things that I have been particularly perturbed by over the past year is that the KMT has not revolted against President Ma’s leadership. A president with an approval rating consistently below 20% should face challenges to his power. Ma has become somewhat more impotent. The KMT legislative caucus has blatantly refused to follow his orders and pass the Services Trade Agreement or even the Oversight Mechanism. (Ma publicly blames this on the DPP, but if his caucus were united in wanting to pass it, they would pass it. It hasn’t passed because the KMT is divided, and the opponents are more scared of their voters than of President Ma.) However, with such extreme unpopularity, I would normally expect much more blatant rebellion. Finally, these sorts of ads force that tension out into the open.
The entire piece is great...

Froze and I both agree that this election is not as meaningful as the media narratives are saying:
In short, this election may be a lot less meaningful than many people believe. If Wu loses in Taoyuan, I might start to buy into the ideas that Taiwanese voters want a wholesale rejection of the comprador class or that significant slices of the electorate were transformed by the Sunflower movement. In the meantime, the least demanding explanation is simply that Sean Lien is going to lose because he was too lazy to spend a year or two intensively preparing for the election.
Exactly. The real signal of change is places that no one is paying attention to: Taoyuan, Hsinchu, etc. The Chinatown election between Lien and Ko is just a more colorful variation of politics as usual, and the contest in Taichung has slowly become a feature of local elections, not a test of anything except the candidates' ability to win. The real test is whether the KMT can keep control of places where it always has kept control. And for that, only Keelung has turned and that because the KMT simply fell apart there, not because of any generational thing.

Ralph Jennings' LA Times report on the election shows the threads that connect the financial industry and the KMT at work in the media. Jennings writes:
"If Beijing takes this weekend's results to mean the opposition party is likely to return to power in 2016, it will hold back on any more goodies or sweeteners for Taipei during President Ma Ying-jeou's final 18 months in office," said Sean King, senior vice president at consulting firm Park Strategies in New York and Taipei. "That's because a future opposition government would inherit these wins, and Beijing would then be in a position of having to reverse or revoke them."
The observation is as good as it goes, but recall that Park Strategies is very close to and very supportive of the KMT. King is a regular media guest and commentator...

KMT politicians engage in the political tactic of crying, attempting to reinforce their victim status....
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12 comments:

Mike Fagan said...

"Voting has become a sacred ritual of reproduction..."

Ballot boxes in the bedroom? Whatever floats your boat...

Eric Pickett said...

I live just a few blocks from Taipei 101 and have to put up with that nonsense almost daily. Needless to say, I avoid that tiny corner of "China" whenever possible. I'm sure loads of other locals and tourists do, too. Sometimes I wish something could be done to stop their ugly display, but then I realize nothing reveals the true intentions of Taiwan's supposed "blood brothers" as letting these rabid kooks loose from their asylum and letting them say what they really think. Meep Meep.

Election results at 5:45 PM are looking good for the good guys. Let's hope this night will give Ma and all his Chinese cronies something to really cry about, instead of their usual crocodile tears.

Jenna Cody said...

Well, only some votes counted, but as of the last time I checked (about 10 minutes ago), the KMT was losing Xinbei and Taoyuan too.

But both are extremely close and that could be an artifact of which precincts are reporting. Miaoli, Nantou, Hsinchu and Matsu are leaning blue.

That said...Great jeebus. If the KMT were to lose Taipei, Keelung, Taoyuan and Xinbei and not win DPP strongholds, which it's not going to, I think Ma Ying-jiu might actually explode.

Raj said...

Looks like Ko has this in the bag, his lead keeps increasing according to Taiwan Formosa news.

Seamus said...

Hopefully you got some champagne handy?

Taiwan Echo said...

"But you know if the PRC cuts off exchanges when Ko is elected.... the western media will be out there blaming the pro-Taiwan side. Except for WSJ."

The Voice Of America posted a report couple of days earlier, titled:

"柯文哲否認九二共識“

In which VOA copies KMT's talking point in its entirety, saying that Ko "denied" the 92 consensus.

I wrote a comment saying that all media in Taiwan, even blue ones, reported that "Ko says that he doesn't know what 92 consensus is" more or less faithfully, but only VOA dares enough to distort his words to "denial."

My comment was not posted, but the title is now changed to the current one:

柯文哲在記者會問:"九二共識是什麼?"
http://www.voacantonese.com/content/ke-denys-1992-consensus/2535229.html

The content, however, remains a complete KMT propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Chen Hui-jie, the 16-year-old campaign manager, her boss, Ye Chun-hsing (no party affinity), got 4831 votes and did not get in.

For a first try for both the candidate and the campaign manager and without party affinity, the result is not too shabby.

She deserves applause.

Anonymous said...

Froze Garlic is quoted:
<< If Wu loses in Taoyuan, I might start to buy into the ideas that Taiwanese voters want a wholesale rejection of the comprador class or that significant slices of the electorate were transformed by the Sunflower movement.>>

Michael added:
<< Exactly. The real signal of change is places that no one is paying attention to: Taoyuan, Hsinchu, etc.>>


Nah...Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Chiayi and Changhua,......even New Taipei was dangling from Mama's skirt......what say you, Michael?

Me: WOW!!! I need days to chew on and digest the meal.

Carlos said...

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the results. I'm curious what this means for Eric Chu - if he's running for president, losing would've saved him some awkwardness when he has to leave his post just a few months into it, though being the last man standing after this election is also good news for him.

They certainly won't be running Sean Lien in 2016...

Brian Castle said...

Regarding the Reuters special report, it is ironic that a report that details so much of the United Front's shady tactics adopts so much of the United Front's language. As just one example, throughout the long article Taiwan is referred to as an "island" and even an "entity" but never as a "nation", "country" or even "state".

Brian Castle said...

A question about the Reuters report:

It says
Since the KMT won the presidential election in 2008, cross-Strait ties have been warmer than ever. More than 20 trade deals, including the establishment of the first direct flights between Taiwan and the mainland, have been inked. No trade agreements were signed under the previous DPP-led administration.

Is this literally true?
Mr. Turton has many times commented that contrary to popular news reports, the DPP did have many exchanges and much trade progress with China during Chen's administration. Were none of them "inked"? What's the story?

Forgive me for asking instead of googling but this is the kind of information that can be difficult to dig up in English language media and I don't read Chinese well enough to do the research.

Anonymous said...

Haha, love that crying picture of KMT members.